Hello and welcome to this week’s blog! I hope you have had a lovely week and are having a peaceful weekend.
It’s been very hot here in the North West of England, with temperatures reaching a whopping 38c. I don’t know about you, but for someone of Celtic heritage and with pale skin, I’m just not used to that sort of heat! And with being pregnant also, it was doubly uncomfortable. As parents, we did all of the usual things to keep ourselves and the kids cool, we made sure that we and the children were well hydrated, that the fans were on, that loose clothing was worn, ice lollies were readily available and that the curtains were closed on rooms that had direct sunlight.
As I was drawing the curtains over the patio doors, I was reminded of the lack of net curtains, and therefore the magic associated with them. Net curtains have seemingly fallen out of fashion over the years, with many people preferring to use shimmery net-like curtains, full fabric curtain drapes or blinds.
However, where home fashions come and go, windows stay! And where there is a window, there is an opportunity for magical practice.
The term ‘window’ is thought to have been derived from both old Norse and middle English words and roughly translates to ‘winds eye’.
The window has evolved much over the centuries, from being a rough hole in the ceiling the to let smoke out of central living spaces, to small slits in walls to allow air to flow, to open windows with no glass (these were managed by applying shutters and drapes), all the way to what we would now recognise as a modern window.
Despite the windows constant re-workings that still continue to this day (such as the advent of double glazing, tinted windows etc), the window has always been viewed as both a useful addition to the home, and, also one that is potentially a weak spot. A place where intruders could climb in, ill intentions and curses could enter or sickness creep through (via the Middle Ages belief of miasma). But what do you do when you have a necessary evil such as a window? You can’t really do without them, yet at the same time, you can acknowledge they need bolstering too…
Today, we have windows that lock and if we can afford them, nifty alarm systems that sound should an intruder try to gain entrance. However, these are new inventions, and for our ancestors, it was both practical methods, such as wooden window shutters that could lock over the window to provide security, combined with the arts of sympathetic magic that offered security and comfort to counteract the sense of unease.
It is one of these sympathetic magic acts that I am going to be talking about today, the act of curtain ways or curtain magic. A technique that was applied by many of our foremothers, and especially in places such as Ireland and here in Lancashire. Historically, folk ways that focused on the domestic setting were usually held and passed down by mothers and grandmothers and this explains why this sort of working is sometimes referred to as ‘granny ways’. Hence the name ‘Granny’s curtains’.
I strongly suspect that some, of the curtain ways we know about today were brought over here by Irish settlers, especially those who came over during the Victorian era for work and to escape from poverty and famine.
Lancashire has long been known to be a county heavily not only associated with Witchcraft and political rebellion, but also for being a Catholic stronghold.
However, this is a notoriety that predates even the Irish Catholic migration of the 1800’s, as despite the dissolution of the Catholic church in 1536, Lancashire’s working class and noble families alike defiantly remained Catholic – some in secret, others less discreet in their practice. In fact, it was a fear of religious political dissention coupled with the popularity of Catholic folk ways and traditional witchcraft, which would go on to fuel the Pendle Witch trials in the following century (March-August 1612).
Demographics and religion aside, it should be noted that it wasn’t only Irish Catholics and Lancastrians who practiced folk ways to protect windows, but also the Romany gypsies and other branches of folkways, I’ve also no doubt that curtain ways were practiced by others too. However, being a Lancashire based Witch, I obviously speak largely of the folk ways from my region.
So, without much further ado… let’s get on to some of the actual folk ways of curtain magic and how you can use this subtle, yet potent form of sympathetic magic…
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Artwork attached to this blog by Arlene Newman.
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